BEND, OR -- Oregon’s 2017 Legislative session gets underway in Salem Wednesday and Bend City Councilors are hopeful lawmakers will immediately get to work on transportation funding. Councilors are expected to sign a resolution at Wednesday's meeting, in support of passage of a state transportation-funding package.
Bend, City Manager Eric King says officials want to provide the appropriate level of service but funding is a big issue. "There’s always talk at the federal or state level that there’s going to be more investment in transportation and we keep trying. But, that’s the challenge, I think, that we face as local government. If we can’t always depend on outside funding for our infrastructure needs, we’ve got to look internally. And, those are hard decisions to make. Whether it’s a transportation bond or a fee that gets added on to a utility bill, there are options we continue to explore, and transportation is a big issue for folks." Lawmakers failed to approve a package in the 2016 session.
King tells KBND News, "Transit is another issue that we’re trying to advance. We’re working with the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council that operates Cascades East Transit to provide some enabling legislation that allows for local communities to decide how to go out for an ask from voters for sustainable funding. We want more flexibility with the use of transient room tax, that’s the tax that visitors pay. We would like to dedicate some of that for infrastructure needs." He adds, Housing and Land Use issues round out the Council’s “top five” legislative wish-list. Governor Kate Brown also considers transportation funding and affordable housing among her top priorities for the session.